TFWA Asia Pacific Hainan Edition
Restarting international travel, DF&TR’s role in that process and how Covid-19 has changed the conversation with governments. DFWC President Sarah Branquinho, a Conference speaker at TFWA Asia Pacific Hainan Special Edition (22 June online) discusses current industry challenges.
Sarah Branquinho
Sarah Branquinho

TFWA: Are vaccination passports the best route back to international travel?

Sarah Branquinho: The easing of travel restrictions will be achieved through a combination of measures – and the so-called vaccination ‘passports’ or certificates are a core element. As vaccination programmes gather momentum, and combined with risk-based testing protocols, we should be able to see a safe, and much longed-for, return to travel.

TFWA: Travel bubbles – a welcome stepping stone to normality or a distraction from the wider opening of borders?

SB: To a stricken aviation sector, any step, however small, is welcome. And it’s particularly welcome for the many people who have been unable to see family members for over a year. We sometimes forget that travel is not all about holidays!

TFWA: How can duty free and travel retail best contribute to the post-pandemic recovery?

SB: By doing what it does best: offering a compelling assortment of fantastic brands to passengers, in a safe environment, giving customers some semblance of ‘normality’ as we emerge from a highly unusual and disconcerting period. The revenues from DF&TR will help the aviation and maritime sectors recover, contribute to brand companies and help ensure that many people get back to work.

TFWA: Has Covid-19 made governments and regulatory authorities more receptive to the views of industries like duty free and travel retail?

SB: The DFWC has been encouraged by ICAO’s recognition of our concerns and inclusion of our views in formulating its policies. However, in general governments have failed to give substantive support to the aviation sector and its stakeholders, and although some airlines have received support, other vital parts of the aviation sector such as the airports, ground-handlers and retailers have received next to nothing. Government health departments have quite rightly prioritised the health of their citizens but as vaccinations and other medical advances have been rolled out, they can now do more to co-ordinate with transport and economic experts and harmonise international efforts to get the travel sector moving again. We stand ready to contribute to and support those efforts.